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Baby blues or depression? Reach out to avoid long-term impact

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Pregnant woman in bed surrounded by pillows

In this article, you’ll find answers to questions like:

1. When can depression start?
2. What's the impact?
3. What are the clues?

There are the baby blues, and then there’s depression. Knowing the difference can be tough. But researchers say getting help is a priority, especially when you consider the devastating immediate and long-term impact of maternal depression, particularly on young children’s development and school readiness.

1. WHEN CAN DEPRESSION START?

The risks can start even before a baby is born. If a pregnant woman is too depressed to access medical care, there’s a higher chance her baby will be born too early or too small. That can have life-long health and developmental consequences for the child.

2. WHAT'S THE IMPACT?

After giving birth, a mother with untreated depression can lead a baby to be passive and withdrawn – at just the time in the baby’s brain development when it's crucial to be engaged and stimulated. And toddlers may become passive or dependent, may be less creative and suffer cognitively.

The impact can extend into the school-age years, causing children to misbehave, be anxious, suffer from attention deficit disorders and have lower IQs.

However you look at it, your baby needs you.

So how can you tell if it's time to reach out for help?

3. WHAT ARE THE CLUES?

  • Changes in appetite and/or sleep patterns
  • Lack of energy
  • Feelings of great sadness, hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Crying for no reason
  • Feeling little interest or pleasure in things you used to enjoy
  • Feelings of inadequacy or not being able to meet the basic needs of your infant
  • Extreme anxiety or panic
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Feeling out of control

If you or someone you know needs help, talk to your doctor or call Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Palm Beach County, an organization for pregnant women, new moms and their young families, funded by Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County. The coalition hosts Circle of Moms support groups, as well as other services to help new moms.

SOURCES:

HealthyChildren.org, a website created by the American Academy of Pediatrics
Caring for Kids, a website created by Canadian pediatricians

 

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